“My country lay within a vast desert.
When the sun rose into the sky, a burning wind punished my lands, searing the world. And when the moon climbed into the dark of night, a frigid gale pierced our homes.
No matter when it came, the wind carried the same thing… Death.
But the winds that blew across the green fields of Hyrule brought something other than suffering and ruin. I coveted that wind, I suppose.”
– Ganondorf (The Wind Waker)
Humans are known as avid consumers. Unlike majority of other species on earth that evolve and adapt to live in harmony with the environment, humans do not. Instead we consume what we have and move on. We want more. We need more. Our focus is too often centered on expanding to what we haven’t got, instead of being content with what we do have. This theme is one that permeates The Legend of Zelda franchise. Not only does Zelda show that such characteristics are inherent in all humans, from the villains like Ganondorf, right through to the protagonist, Link, but also that this natural greedy drive of humans can lead to both advantageous and negative outcomes.
We’ve all had that feeling of really wanting something to at least some degree; whether it’s just a little nagging, an annoying dedication to obtaining what we want, like in children, or the feeling that you will go to any length to obtain what you don’t have. There’s nothing wrong with the feeling, because we all get that, but The Legend of Zelda deals with the various ways that people respond to such emotions. Some are led to their destruction, while others find what they are after, or come to understand what they truly need.
Ganondorf is the prime example of how not to go about dealing with things. Until 2003 and the release of The Wind Waker, Ganondorf was simply seen as a power hungry villain. Evil for the sake of evil. All he wanted was the Triforce, but such was not the case. Ganondorf was born King of the Gerudos, a race of thieves, and all he saw was his people suffering. When he looked to Hyrule, he saw what he didn’t have. He saw what his people needed for peace. Due to his upbringing, thievery and force was the only way he could imagine obtaining what he wanted. Ganondorf invaded the Sacred Realm for the Triforce, yes, but in a roundabout way, for the peace of himself and his people.
Instead of focusing on how to deal with his current desert predicament, Ganondorf throws himself into a blind attempt to conquer the lands that he lusted after. Such acts were ultimately his downfall. What Ganondorf’s story represents is that despite how much you want something; despite how much you feel like you deserve it or need it, don’t try to take something that isn’t yours by force. Material possessions are one factor that drives us to action in instances. So is peace, which applies directly to our Hero, Link.
Link, along with Zelda and other characters, is as guilty as Ganondorf in his desire for peace. Peace is what he doesn’t have and is what he wants. It just so happens that Link and Ganondorf’s ideals of peace are conflicting. The Legend of Zelda coaches us that there are cases where it is for the better to dedicate yourself to obtaining what you don’t have. Those circumstances are when you can make changes for the better. Changes in yourself, changes in others and in your community. Ganondorf conveys how you shouldn’t deal with your desires, but Link shows how you can deal with them. He guides us to be careful about how we go after what we desire. He warns about unwarranted actions like Ganondorf’s and encourages simple people like me and you not to be scared of chasing our dreams in productive and courageous ways. Through King Daphnes Nohansen Hyrule, The Wind Waker provides a prime example of how desire and regret can be counterproductive. The game focuses on inspiring us to make changes for the better in our lives, like Link, but not getting carried away like Ganondorf.
People, possessions – yes they are largely coveted, but perhaps not more so than other people. Than companions, partners and friends. Majora’s Mask is a story based around that exact premise. After having been separated with his dear companion, Navi, Link goes on “a journey in search of a beloved and invaluable friend”. Link completely dedicates himself to this one cause; to what he no longer has. Throughout his journeys in Termina Link comes to understand: it was not about, Navi, whom he didn’t have, but about who he did have. Who he had left behind in Hyrule: namely Zelda. Link realizes that he should return to those that miss him. This is what the Happy Mask Salesman is referring to when he says “both of us have gotten what we were after”. He had obtained Majora’s Mask, and Link, he had learned that it was about what he had left behind, not what he didn’t have.
So, what is my point in all of this? More importantly, what is The Legend of Zelda saying to us? It is a simple message, like all of the messages in Zelda, but one that applies directly to all of us. A desire for more, for better, for what we don’t have – that makes us human. What defines you as an individual, as a person, is how you respond. Start by appreciating what you do have, as Link learns to in Majora’s Mask. When you expand to new horizons, keep what you have in mind and go forward courageously like Link has on his many journeys. Just remember, don’t go too far like Ganondorf. It is not about being content and accepting life the way that it is, but appreciating what you have and what you are. Don’t be afraid of seeking what you don’t have – just don’t let it consume you like Daphnes. Approach it the right way.